Report says carbon dioxide removal must increase 1,300-fold by 2050

February 16, 2023 |

In Germany, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere, alongside rapidly reducing emissions, is needed to reach the Paris Agreement temperature goal to limit warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to achieve 1.5°C. This is highlighted in the first “State of Carbon Dioxide Removal” report, which convenes over 20 experts in the field of CDR and was led by Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. It was co-led by the Berlin-based climate research institute MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change).

According to the report, almost all current CDR comes from conventional removal methods on land (2 gigatonnes CO2 per year), primarily via planting trees and managing soils. Countries need to maintain and expand this, approximately doubling in 1.5°C pathways and increasing by around 50 percent in 2°C pathways by 2050 compared to 2020 levels. In a warming climate, this is a huge challenge that requires dedicated policies and management, say the authors. But virtually all pathways also require new CDR technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), biochar, enhanced rock weathering, and direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS). New CDR technologies make up only a tiny fraction of current CDR (0.002 gigatonnes CO2 per year). Closing the CDR gap requires rapid growth of these new CDR technologies, by a factor of 1,300 on average by 2050.

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